In line with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the kingdom has introduced the ancient Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata into the school curriculum.
A tweet which has gone viral by Nouf Al-Marwaai, the first Saudi yoga instructor and founder of the Arab Yoga Foundation, included a screenshot of her son's social studies exam with questions on Hinduism and Buddhism.
"Saudi Arabia's new #vision2030 & curriculum will help to create a coexistent, moderate & tolerant generation. Screenshots of my son's school exam today in Social Studies included concepts & history of Hinduism, Buddhism, Ramayana, Karma, Mahabharata Dharma. I enjoyed helping him study," she wrote.
Saudi Arabia's new #vision2030 & curriculum will help to create coexistent,moderate & tolerant generation. Screenshots of my sons school exam today in Social Studies included concepts & history of Hinduism,Buddhism,Ramayana, Karma, Mahabharata &Dharma. I enjoyed helping him study pic.twitter.com/w9c8WYstt9
— Nouf Almarwaai نوف المروعي 🇸🇦 (@NoufMarwaai) April 15, 2021
These educational reforms under Vision 2030, which also include the teaching of the English language being made been made mandatory are part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's drive to reduce the kingdom's dependence on oil revenues and to diversify its economy. The project also aims to improve the ultra-conservative country's image abroad to one of being a more tolerant and moderate society.
According to the Hindustan Times, other significant elements of Indian culture such as yoga and Ayurveda (a form of holistic medicine) apart from the Ramayana and Mahabharata will also be added to the school syllabus.
Originally written in Sanskrit, the Mahabharata is said to be the longest poem ever written. It is notable for including Hinduism's most widely read scripture, known as the Bhagavadgita. Together with the Ramayana it forms part of Hinduism's history.
Yesterday Bin Salman gave an interview on national television discussing the developments and achievements on the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030 since it was launched in 2016. "We have solved many issues in the economic sector, including the housing sector, within the last five years since launching Vision 2030," he said.
"The percentage of people owning houses before Vision 2030 was only 47 per cent. Now it has increased to 60 per cent.
"Unemployment has decreased. Before Vision 2030 it was 14 per cent and now it's gone down to 11 per cent this year."
"We are aiming to reach unemployment rates in 2030 of 7 per cent."